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Mr. Romney’s Version of Equal Rights - NYTimes.com


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But then he started a slow, painful slide into one of the most bizarre comments on this issue we’ve ever heard, which became an instant Internet sensation. “We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet,” Mr. Romney said, sounding as if that were a herculean task. An appeal to women’s groups, he said, “brought us whole binders full of women.”

This was important, he said, because “I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the work force that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.”

At this point we could practically hear his political consultants yelling “Stop!”

But Mr. Romney did not. “She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.”

Flexibility is a good policy. But what if a woman had wanted to go home early to study Spanish? Or rebuild an old car? Or spend time with her lesbian partner? Would Mr. Romney have been flexible about that? Or if a man wanted similar treatment? True equality is not satisfied by allowing the little lady to go home early and tend to her children.

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